Pharrell Williams talks about a wide variety of topics in his new cover interview with GQ, particularly his definition of masculinity and what it does and doesn’t (and should and shouldn’t) mean in the charged atmosphere of 2019.
As part of that, he actually raises the subject of “Blurred Lines,” his 2013 collaboration with Robin Thicke that was not only the subject of a $5 million judgement against the pair for co-opting the “feel” of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up,” it has also come under fire for lyrics that are perceived by many to be “rapey” (“Girl, I know you want it … Do it like it hurts”). Williams had previously defended the song, calling the criticism of it “sensationalism,” but he says he now understands it.
“I didn’t get it at first,” Williams told GQ editor in chief Will Welch. “Because there were older white women who, when that song came on, they would behave in some of the most surprising ways ever. And I would be like, wow. They would have me blushing.
“So when there started to be an issue with it, lyrically, I was, like, ‘What are you talking about?’,” he continued. “There are women who really like the song and connect to the energy that just gets you up. And ‘I know you want it’ — women sing those kinds of lyrics all the time. So it’s like, ‘What’s rapey about that?’
“And then I realized that there are men who use that same language when taking advantage of a woman, and it doesn’t matter that that’s not my behavior or the way I think about things — it just matters how it affects women,” he said. “And I was like, ‘Got it. I get it. Cool.’ My mind opened up to what was actually being said in the song and how it could make someone feel.
“Even though it wasn’t the majority, it didn’t matter,” he concluded. “I cared what they were feeling too. I realized that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country. Hadn’t realized that. Didn’t realize that some of my songs catered to that. So that blew my mind.”
Read the full interview here.